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Five jobs created as publisher launches website on rival patch

Matt-Kelly-e1400584060744A regional publisher is set to launch a city news website with the creation of five new jobs – but has insisted it will not seek to compete with existing local titles there.

Archant has announced will go live in spring 2020 as part of Google-funded initiative Project Neon, which will see the company launch up to three local news websites in total.

Project Neon was launched as part of Google News Initiative local experiments project, which aims to target up to three UK communities “identified as being currently underserved by local news”.

The city is already served by JPIMedia weekly the Peterborough Telegraph and its companion website

However Archant has moved to deny Peterborough Matters will compete with the title – saying instead it will instead “try to build significantly higher levels of daily engagement with users through an innovative blend of community-driven content, useful information and local advertising”.

Archant is now recruiting an initial staff for Peterborough Matters, including one commercial and four editorial roles.

Matt Kelly, pictured,  Archant’s chief content officer, said: “Local journalism’s survival is so crucial, yet today its long-term future is under threat because nobody has yet cracked the challenge of making it profitable in a digital-only world.

“Like so many other communities in the UK, Peterborough has seen provision of local journalism shrink significantly over the years.

“Project Neon is all about experimenting with different models of journalism and business to create a sustainable business based on high quality, useful community content, and challenging some received wisdoms as we do it.

“What we learn, we will share openly with the industry and in doing so we hope to play a part in ensuring local news once again thrives.”

Archant says Peterborough was chosen because it is one of the UK’s fastest-growing cities with a population of around 200,000, has “a very clear identity, strong sense of community” and no longer has a daily newspaper of its own since the Telegraph went weekly in 2012.

Emily Hewitt, Archant’s head of audience, said: “We want to try to get closer to the people of Peterborough than anything that’s been before.

“That means going back to the drawing board to rethink what local journalism means and how it is done and how it pays for itself.

“If we get it right, readers and advertisers will think Peterborough Matters isn’t just another local news brand, but a vibrant community platform that belongs to them.”


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  • November 14, 2019 at 4:19 pm

    Presumably a glance at what’s on offer at the EDP/EN/EADT/IS websites is a good indicator of what the residents of Peterborough can expect. I also imagine that Peterborough copy will be used to flesh out the websites of the Cams Times, Wisbech Standard and Ely Standard, so (in a Private Eye fashion) trebles all round in thanks to Google for helping existing struggling titles.

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  • November 14, 2019 at 4:48 pm

    Using other people’s money to take out a rival? I’ve never heard of anything so pathetic in my life. If they wanted to test this properly, go somewhere under served. The leadership team are an embarrassment. ?Why celebrate the fact they are relying on hand outs to prop up their business! Shareholders of Archant, get in touch! I’ll run peterboroughmatters for half the cash your current execs are on and build it all for a few quid using WordPress. It’ll be equally as good. You could use the savings from the exec dosh to get some great journalistic talent in – just like the old days. The offer is there.

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  • November 15, 2019 at 11:26 am

    You have to admire Archants barefaced cheek in lunching a web site on a neighbouring competitors patch and trying to have us believe its in the interest of the industry and not their own personal gain.
    I also doubt this is how Google envisioned their money being spent, big standard local website with content supplied by the public while the one ad rep trawls the area trying to monetise it.

    Let’s hope JPI see this for exactly what it is and send them back to where they came from with their tails between their legs or better still open up a rival title on Archants territory, Norfolk and Suffolk are desperately under served news areas and there’s a ready made audience of readers and advertisers waiting, many voting with their feet following the print centre closure and the resultant 96 job losses

    Over to you JPI

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  • November 15, 2019 at 12:02 pm

    I doubt encroaching on another publishers patch and opening a ‘news’ website in competition ( trust me it will be,despite what they’re claiming) using ‘citizen journalists’= free UGC and FB story lifts on the cheap,was what Google had in mind when they gave Archant millions to develop an innovative way to monetise regional news.

    The Peterborough area is very well served by
    JPI print and online as well as other localised publications across the county and this is nothing more than Archant looking to get a foothold in and take revenue from already established competitors in a neighbouring county.
    If this self serving scheme is the best Archant can come up with it confirms how completely out of ideas they are and how misguided Google have been in choosing Archant to be the heavily funded ‘innovators’

    I am sure JPI will have something to say about it once they realise this jape is aimed at them and is likely to affect their revenues.

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  • November 15, 2019 at 12:42 pm

    I find this puzzling, I have to be honest. As far as I can recall, practically everyone commentating on this site has spent the last couple of years quite convinced that JP were awful and running local news into the ground. Now that someone is investing in a new model (and it is perhaps a little unfair to prejudge what that will be) JP is suddenly a business that must be defended at all costs!

    Take it from my bitter experience having been there. JP do not deserve any defending of their existing titles. Nor Newsquest, who I pray do not acquire them. Nor Reach who have been busy launching county-wide sites across a lot of competitor’s territory.

    I’m personally happy that there will be new jobs and new ideas going into local journalism. We are all hoping for a way to make journalism pay and if it doesn’t exist yet, somebody is going to have come up with it. That will inevitably involve change and disruption to existing, failing models.

    Or am I missing the point?

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  • November 15, 2019 at 12:42 pm

    Some good points here – I’m sure the would-be journalists being encouraged to apply via the PeterboroughMatters website will turn out to be completely different from the army of untrained digital journalists the company employs elsewhere! You know, qualified, bags of experience, have lived in the area for some time rather than just graduating from the nearest university…

    And I had to laugh at the comment ““Like so many other communities in the UK, Peterborough has seen provision of local journalism shrink significantly over the years.” Substitute the word ‘Cromer’ for ‘Peterborough’ and this sentence might easily refer to a town which has lost its newspaper office.

    Wonder where the next two launches will be. My money is on two of Cambridge (Archant have been determined to get a foothold in that market for a long, long time now), Northampton, Boston and Chelmsford (yes, I know, strictly speaking it used to get some coverage in the EADT in the past, but no longer).

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  • November 15, 2019 at 12:46 pm

    @ex-JP staffer
    I can only speak for myself. No, I don’t think JPI are any different to the other big players, but I think what most comments relate to is the fact that Archant is really struggling in its core area and yet people are amazed that Google has given it money to try its ideas elsewhere, rather than put its existing house in a little more order,

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  • November 15, 2019 at 1:00 pm

    @One-time sub
    Fair point, especially given their terrible results last year. But I do think Archant at least try interesting things and I’m willing to see what they come up with first before I decide it’s all a lot of rubbish.

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  • November 15, 2019 at 1:14 pm

    Ex JP Staffer
    I am no fan of JPI however I feel it’s completely underhand for a rival publisher to barge in,att no risk to themselves as it’s not their money they’re playing with ,on another publishers territory under the guise of their launch being in the best interests of the wider industry. It’s not just JPI though, other smaller community media publishers will also be affected by a bigger operation moving into their territories too.
    Archant had their worst year ever in 2018 and having failed to satisfactorily monetise their own online platforms have simply moved in on another neighbouring area when, for the good of their own business, they’d be better off resolving the issues closer to home first.
    If they want to open in competition with JPI as they believe the area is currently underserved for news at least be up front open and honest about it.

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  • November 18, 2019 at 11:13 am

    I can’t help thinking of the starving rats so desperate that they take to eating each other. Only with this, the final victims will be the ‘dependants’ – the JPi staff hanging onto jobs, or the Archant newcomers..

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  • November 18, 2019 at 11:55 am

    No matter how you dress it up or what you want folk to believe,when you’ve dismantled your own business and systematically sold off all the family silver, including the big house on the hill , and there’s nothing left for you in your own territory the only option is to look over the neighbours fence and see what pickings can be had there.

    From a vast, heathy and well respected publishing empire built up over a hundred years of hard graft,fair trading and mutual respect to the counties and communities they once served so well, to this, it beggars belief

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